An accident usually results in physical injury or property damage. In New York, you are required by the law to exchange information with the party sustaining the property damage or contact the law enforcement authorities before leaving the scene of an accident. The information should include your driver’s license, insurance identification details for the vehicle involved, your full names and home address. The insurance identification details must include the name of the provider and effective dates of your policy. The party sustaining the damage should also provide his license number. If he is not at the scene of the accident, he should report to the nearest police station as soon as possible.
Reporting a property damage before leaving the scene of the accident provides the police and the insurance company with enough information so that the case can be properly resolved. Leaving the scene without reporting the case or exchanging information may land you into serious trouble. You may be charged with leaving the scene of an accident illegally or hit and run. Even if you stop at the scene immediately the accident occurs, you may still be charged if you refuse to give the one sustaining the property damage your full details.
It is important you be calm after an accident so that you don’t make irrational decisions that might jeopardize your case. Stop the car, take a deep breath and relax. Slowly alight from the car and reach out to the other person involved to exchange information. Many people have been charged in New York’s courts because they failed to observe the due diligence after an accident.
Consider this case. Robert was late for work one morning. He hurriedly took his car keys and drove off hoping to arrive at his workplace on time. While he was driving down the streets in Manhattan, he saw one of his friends waving at him on the other side of the road. With a lot of excitement, he waved back. Unfortunately, he slightly lost control of the vehicle and sideswiped another car nearby. Though he noticed some damage on the side mirror of the car, Robert decided to continue with his journey. The other driver tried to stop him but to no avail. He quickly took a picture of Robert’s license plate.
In this case, Robert is risking heavy penalties or even a jail term for leaving the scene without reporting the damage or hit and run. It is clear that he knew that there was a significant damage to the side mirror of the other car. This offense falls in the category of a traffic infraction and attracts a fine of up to $250. You may also spend up to 15 days in jail if convicted of the crime.
Defenses to the penal code
Before the judge sentences you, the prosecutor must prove that indeed you knew about the property damage but chose to ignore it. In this case, the prosecutor will gather evidence from the other driver or talk to those who were nearby. He may also request for the camera footage of the incident from the traffic department. In your defense, you must prove beyond any reasonable doubts that you did not realize you hit an object or another vehicle.
Hire a Lawyer
The chances of succeeding when charged with violating the penal code are slim if you decide to defend yourself without a lawyer. A NYC criminal lawyer knows how to gather critical evidence and convince the judges to rule the case in your favor. You need a lawyer who has a lot of experience in defending clients in New York courts. The lawyer must also have a good track record and reputation.
New York Vehicle and Traffic Law 600(2): Leaving scene of an incident without reporting- personal injury
In the state of New York, if you’re involved in a car accident that consists of physical injury, injury to an animal or property damage, it’s illegal for you to leave the scene of the accident. When any one of those instances occur, you’re required to notify someone of the accident, and you must remain at the scene at all times. When police arrive at the scene, you’ll be required to provide at least the following information:
-Your name and address
-Proof of insurance, including the name and address of who holds the insurance and the name and contact information of the insurance company
-Your driver’s license number
Example of Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Say you’re driving down a road when the car in front of you comes to a sudden stop, and you hit the back of the car. Nothing major, just a scratch or two can be seen as far as the property damage to the vehicle. The driver of the other car exits his vehicle, and you both ask each other if you’re okay. You are fine, and the other driver seems fine a well, although you do notice him gently rubbing the back of his neck. You shake the other driver’s hand, hand him your contact information, and drive away.
After you left, the other driver realizes he’s not feeling well and ends up in the emergency room. Because of this, the police find you and charge you with leaving the scene of an accident.
Defenses Your Attorney May Rely On
In order for you to not be convicted of the crime of leaving the scene of a property damage accident, your defense attorney would have to argue a few different points, including that you did not realize you hit another vehicle or that you did not realize you caused injury to someone. Keep in mind that someone can suffer a minor injury, one that is not defined as a physical injury in the criminal code, and you’ll also have a valid defense if you left the scene without.
Sentencing if Convicted
There are a number of considerations when a judge sentences a defendant with leaving the scene of an accident with an injury. For example, you could be charged just for not showing your license and insurance information, and in that case, you’ll see a monetary fine of upwards of $500 and three months in jail. Other reasons for your charge could find you paying a fine of up to $1,000 and facing a year in jail. If this is your second leaving the scene of an accident offense, the crime’s punishment increases to a fine of up to $2,500 and up to four years in prison. If a person dies as a result of the accident and you’re charged with leaving the scene, you face a fine as much as $5,000 and up to seven years in prison.
Retain an experienced defense attorney if you’re charged with leaving the scene of an accident. It’s very important that you provide accurate and correct information to your attorney, including details of the accident, who was involved if you think there were any witnesses and the reasons why you left the scene. All of this information is very important to the overall defense of your crime.
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